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Television Match Official (the dreaded TMO)

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Post by thebandwagonsociety Tue 01 Jul 2014, 4:26 pm

Couple of questions now that the NH season is over on the TMO. People can quote instances but I'm more interested in what we need to do to make it more efficient and effective for the RWC;

- How have people found the extended reach of TMO reviews? Both in how far back in play they can go, and also the number of offences they can check for.

- Does the rationale of 'lets get the decision right' rest well with the extended delays during games?

- Why is the TMO usually some old fart with limited technology skills that has the same reaction and facial expression as when my dad is trying to use the DVR (was going to say 'programming the VCR' but that would be going too far back for most people these days)?

- Can the television companies recorded these games not have their cameras synchronised and playback 2-3-4 angles at the one time?  There is too much of this 'oh his foot is out lets check the grounding angle' and they take 3 years to cut to the other angle but never synchronise the feeds which would be the easy way to pause on one angle just before grounding and then look at the freeze frames  from the other sides for everything else.  Honestly it should take 5 seconds not 5 minutes.

- Does the TMO go back too far in a play?  And how far back can they go for the RWC? There is still a difference if I can remember as to how far a SH ref can go back versus a NH ref.

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Post by OMc Tue 01 Jul 2014, 10:09 pm

I am in favour of the extended TMO protocol, and am willing to wait a few minutes for a correct decision.

I do however have a few points that I believe should be addressed:
1: Big screens
I think that, now the ref uses the big screen to make decisions, the big screen should only be allowed to show live action unless the TMO has been asked to review something. This would avoid situations like the Hogg incident in the 6N. I do wish that refs would let the TMO give their decision before bringing in what they've seen on the big screen.
2: Angles
The TMO sits in the broadcast truck (at least for club games), so why do they need to look at every angle in turn? I have a feeling it's so that the ref sees them all on the big screen. Also, if the decision can be made using one angle, why then show another four?
3: Start and stop
TMOs seem to forget that they can stop the tape, which would make offside calls a lot easier, for example. Perhaps they should have the technology to draw an offside line in the same way as football does.
4: Language barrier
It is surely common sense to appoint a TMO with the same first language as the referee. It must be difficult to communicate with a TMO, as it is impossible to see their face, in a second language.
5: Running commentary:
At the Rugby League WC I heard TMOs explain their decision step-by-step to the TV audience as they made it. Why don't they do that in union, rather than having Austin Healey or similar try to explain what's going on.

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Post by SecretFly Wed 02 Jul 2014, 12:28 pm

I guess for as long as refs and TMOs exist there will always be problematic stuff they get up to that will irritate people.  So that's a given and then all you can do is highlight one or two of the things that might have irritated you but that other people might have thought nothing of.

The one thing that annoyed me recently was the 'specific language' refs are compelled to use and how the use of such specific language dictates whether or not an action has taken place.

I find that a little bizarre in the real world where people see what they can see (or don't see it) that yet because a ref chooses to ask the TMO in specific language to address an issue, he's then compelled to be controlled by the language he used rather than what he actually sees.

A recent example.  Can't actually remember the game or the ref involved...might have been Poite.  Anyway, players from both sides fell across a tryline.  It was the usual huddle that was very difficult to make a judgement of grounding on.  But the ref delayed and then finally asked the TMO to see whether "there was an reason why I cannot award the try"
To ask that question of the TMO usually suggests the ref has seen enough to satisfy him it was a try but that he just needs confirmation about peripheral issues.
Anyway, the ref and the TMO watched the action over and over again.  And it became apparent that there was a real likelihood that the ball was held up.  You could sense that the ref was changing his mind on the legitimacy of the try and he tried to infer that it looked held up to the TMO.  But the TMO was having none of it and just said that he saw no reason not to award the try.  Although the ref really looked uncomfortable with the outcome he acknowledged the wording of his initial question by conceded the try was duely scored.  

Now I'd say he's the ref, he's the final arbiter and that the evidence of his eyes looking at the replay should have informed his final decision regardless of his query wording.  He should have overruled the TMO advice and gone with his instincts.

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Post by thebandwagonsociety Wed 02 Jul 2014, 12:51 pm

A good point Fly.

The TMO can only advise though. Poite could have admitting his initial question was wrong and clarified to the TMO that he wanted advice on the revised question. If he was a big man and said my mistake, I'm correcting my question then no one would argue too much against it. Owens get plenty of credit for apologising during a game if he doesn't let advantage go far enough, or amends his call after thinking about it or checking with the linesmen.

OMc, I agree with the pause, aligning the language for TMO and official and the running commentary from the TMO would be great, as you know exactly what he is looking at and concentrating on in each clip.

I'd disagree with not showing replays on the big screen. It should be about getting the decisions right, and if something off the ball is worthy of a severe penalty it shouldn't be an issue whether a ref sees it out of the corner of his eye during play or in a replay. For serious off the ball stuff though I don't think the TMO chips in as much as they could.

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Post by thebandwagonsociety Wed 02 Jul 2014, 12:53 pm

What would peoples thoughts be on a TMO command centre? They use it in the NHL. They have a team of experts with a full proper set up in a permanent location. Anything to be reviewed goes to them, the TV companies see exactly what they are looking at. Then you can have a team supporting the ref rather than a single TMO.

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Post by doctor_grey Wed 02 Jul 2014, 1:13 pm

thebandwagonsociety wrote:What would peoples thoughts be on a TMO command centre?  They use it in the NHL. They have a team of experts with a full proper set up in a permanent location.  Anything to be reviewed goes to them, the TV companies see exactly what they are looking at.  Then you can have a team supporting the ref rather than a single TMO.
I agree, Run the TV cables to my house. I can make all decisions. I am completely unbiased (ahem).

I think the chalenge is that it takes a lot of money to get this set up. Not sure Rugby is centralised enough and has enough funding to make that happen, even if just for the Premiership, or any of the other leagues.

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Post by dummy_half Fri 04 Jul 2014, 8:10 am

Perhaps we should do away with the TMO as an official and just let the ref review directly on the big screen, directing the TMO as to which views he wants and when he wants to use super slo-mo or frame by frame. After all, several of the refs are effectively subverting the TMO role anyway by doing just this. Video review in the NFL is done something like this (actually a dedicates small screen by the pitch that the head referee reviews on).

Agree that we, as TV viewers, should be able to hear the communications between the on field officials and the TMO.

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